Sunday, October 17, 2010

A Lovely Day in the Garden

It is October 26th and we haven't had a frost yet and the forecast in the newspaper doesn't show one for the next week either but production in the garden has slowed way down. [Our typical date for the first frost is October 10th.] There now is not much left in the garden other than greens. The beans have been pulled up, along with the ground cherries, all but one tomato plant (I just didn't get to that yet), and I finished the peppers yesterday.

I've begun working on the next season - winter. I've had what I call the "lettuce frame" for four or five years. It is a somewhat rickety frame from old fence slats with a large piece of glass on top. I plant lettuce in it in the fall and it remains covered with snow during the winter until about March when the snow melts off and the lettuce starts growing again. This past winter I built three new cold frames, two of which were insulated and the other made again of old cedar fence slats. Yesterday I cut more fence slats and made my biggest frame. At 80 inches long it was a little difficult to get out of the cellar. We placed it over the kale that was planted earlier. Here it is. It was seventy degrees today so I haven't brought out the two pieces of glass that will cover the top.

Last year the kale survived without being covered but I am told that might not happen every year. I think it was protected by the heavy snow. In the other cold frames I have lettuce, mache - some that was started indoors and some that was sowed in the soil in the frame, claytonia, and some more kale. In whatever space is left I will plant a few arugula seedlings, seed a few rows of spinach and more mache (also known as corn salad). Mache is the one thing that is supposed to keep growing during the winter. This will be our first winter to see how the cold frames work.

This was a good year. Few pests, lots of fruits and vegetables. In terms of produce we have brought in more than 620 lbs this year. What I counted last year was 370 lbs. Later I'll report on the weight for various vegetables (and fruits). The big increase this year was from squash, tomatoes, cucumbers and beans. We will pick kale and other greens as long as we can and then it will be time to start using the fruit and vegetables that we froze, or dried, or made into jam. We do still get a few raspberries each day but they get popped into mouths before they can be weighed.